Why do some people see black and blue while others see white and gold?

8 Answers
I am asking about the photo of the dress that went viral, of course. In real life, the dress is black and blue but when it is photographed some people see it as white and gold while others have seen it as black and blue. I looked at it twice and saw it as white and gold and as black and blue. What is the Science behind this? Why would the colors appear different?

I have seen it both ways. When I see it as white and gold it usually slowly fades to blue and black, which is quite a trip.

As far as the reasoning, I don't think any theory has been proven. The theory that carries the most weight, however, is that it has to do with the same process as "night vision."

Have you ever noticed that when you turn off your lights at bed time you can't see a single thing in your bedroom, but if you wake up later in the night you can see everything? The rods and cones in our eyes secrete and build up a substance which allows us to see at night. Once we are exposed to light again, that substance is broken down and we need to redevelop our night vision.

The same idea applies to the dress- depending on the amount of light exposure you've been under before viewing the picture, you might see either variation.

Compounding this issue is the contrast between the two fabrics, the poor lighting, and the transitional shade of both fabric colors. The shades of blue and black in the dress are both "transitional" shades (or at least the lighting of the photo makes them appear that way). This means the shade is right on the borderline between two colors.

Hope this helps! Don't look at that dress too long it will mess with your mind ;)!


Both my daughter and I first saw it as blue and black, then at looking at the photo on another site she saw it as white and gold. It was not until I saw it in a small thumbnail that I saw it as white and gold but then as soon as a larger image loaded I totally saw it as blue and black.

This particular picture is really tricky, the colors are not pure in the photo, although most people do tend to see the dress as blue and black, because of the way the colors are not strong and due to the background, some people's eyes are tricked into thinking it is white and gold. If you have somebody put the picture against a dark back ground and you look away for a while then look at it, what do you see? Now look away and have somebody show the image against a white background. Has that changed your perception?

I am not sure if the person who took the photo knew how perplexing it is or how it came to be known that some people see it different but it was sure unusual.


The answer is that no-one knows for sure. There are 9 reasons given in this article here: http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/trending/9-reasons-thedress-is -different-colours-31026909.html

I think that in part it is also to do with how the photograph was taken (lighting conditions etc) because when I take a look at some pics online of the dress, it looks white and gold, but in other pics I see black and blue.

In the pic of the article I listed here, it definitely looks white and gold to me. BUT, if I take my glasses off and squint so that the image is not so clear, then it looks black and blue. It's pretty interesting to be able to switch back and forth between the two like that!

I read in another article that the dress is in real life actually supposed to be black and blue, and that there has been a huge surge in demand from people wanting to buy the dress!


I read that it has to do with the cones in the eyes, and people perceive the colors differently, like looking at an optical illusion. Supposedly, the dress is really blue and black. I only see white and gold. I asked my son, his wife, and my grandson what they saw, and they all said blue and black! They couldn't believe that I see white and gold. I've looked at that photo so many times, but still see white and gold. It just makes me wonder what else is perceived differently. Do we all see colors completely differently? I'm an artist, and I wonder how people see the colors I choose to use. What about trees, the sky, and the color of animals? Is a penguin black and white, or blue and gold? The whole thing is amazing and puzzling to me!


I am glad you asked this, it has been puzzling me most of the day. I have no idea though as to why or how people can see this dress in various colours.

I have seen the black and blue dress next to the "same dress" which is white and gold and cannot for the life of me see how people can mix it up, but perhaps they can, my eyesight is not at it's best.

When I see the dress it is white and gold, that is it. If someone else is seeing it black and blue, then I think it must be a second dress.

I may very well be wrong, but I just don't see it!


No matter what the lighting or how I adjust my computer monitor, I only see the dress as black and blue. So did everybody in my office. And in fact, the dress is black and blue. It's also available in other colors, none of which are white or any shade of white and none of which have gold lace. The lace isn't even metallic, it's flat.

If you stare at the dress long enough then look away, you may see white where the black lace is and yellow or orange where the blue is. It's an optical illusion, as when staring at red will eventually make you see green.


My take on the whole situation is that you has to do with light and it has to do with your computer screen as well. When I saw the picture I saw nothing wrong with the picture. I immediately thought that blue and that golden brown.

A lot of people are disagreeing with me because I am talking about the specifically on a website. Right now and a lot of people are telling me they look at it to be a different color so it has to the definitely with light.


It is based on light. Based on the light some people see black and blue while others see white and gold. it has nothing to do with your mental state it is just a matter of light.